Today’s Feature – April 7-8: The Bridge

April 8, 2008 at 9:22 pm (Today's Feature)

Cris Jacobs, Kenny Liner, Dave Markowitz, Patrick Rainey and Mike Gambone, collectively known as The Bridge are a pretty easy group of guys to write about. Sure, they’re absurdly talented like all of the artists we feature on PensEyeView… but these guys have a unique characteristic – they’re from Baltimore – not exactly the scene you’ll find in New York, LA or Nashville. But to quote the beatbox himself, Kenny Liner, “I am THE WIRE, son!”

Anyway, since PEV makes its home in B-more, we have a little extra knowledge of the scene. And The Bridge is made up of a bunch of truly good guys. Watching the five perform together is like seeing five best friends sitting down to a game of poker, and they made us feel right at home during the XXQ’s. The music that The Bridge produces is a little different, “a combination of elements of blues, roots, funk and even bluegrass.” They pull it off with style, still maintaining that rock star allure that has been heard across the country and across Europe. The “sophisticated but down-home and funky musical experience” The Bridge offers features fantastic variety, using non-traditional rock instruments such as the mandolin and the saxophone.

True, their music does rely on old school roots, but the band is successful because they simply write songs that they like; “We don’t try to play all this electronica music and stuff. We play the music we love.” Catch as many live performances as you can – no set list is the same, and guest spots occur on a regular basis. The band is the studio now recording, and the material promises to be groundbreaking. Keep an eye out for the new music, and prepare for the tour that will follow. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

The Bridge – Kenny Liner (PEV): Hey Kenny, great to talk with you. So, going back a bit, how did the Bridge first start out?

Kenny Liner (KL): We are going on six and a half years right now. And it started with just me and our guitar player, Cris Jacobs, jamming blue grass jam… Me on mandolin, him on guitar. Just getting together and having fun. Then we started playing some open mic nights, macking on girls and stuff (laughs). Then an old band mate came back from college and played electric bass. Another friend came by and played drums. It just happened out of nowhere.

PEV: You guys are all from the Baltimore/Mid-Atlantic area. What were you listening to growing up?

KL: Well, I’ve always been a fan of the Beastie Boys. The first band I got into was Led Zepplin, then I got into Metalica and rock bands. Then overnight, I switched to hio-hop, because of the Beastie Boys. Then, it was all about The Fat Boys, Run DMC. Then, one day my friend gave me some acid and I started to freak out a little bit (laughs). He sat me down and played Grateful Dead. I was like, “What is this?” I new my cousins liked it but I had never really been into them. But that night changed my life forever. From there on out, it was acid and Grateful Dead.

PEV: Growing up listening to those bands, what do you think about mainstream music today?

KL: I don’t mind it. I love American Idol (laughs). There’s positive and negative. People complain that music have lost feeling and soul and I do agree with them on that. But there are also a lot of good young music. I mean bands that are paving the way and selling a lot of records, like Beck, Arcade Fire. I mean the Britney Spears is not that popular anymore. Indie rock is becoming more popular. I mean, Deathcab For Cutie is selling more records than Metalica. It’s kind of cool.

PEV: Was there a certain point when music went from a hobby to a full time career?

KL: I’ve always been a take it as it comes, kind of guy. It was never like a sit down decision. More people started to come, so we played more often. It became to where I couldn’t have another job. It became a full time job. We just do our best at it. I never consciously said it. I always wanted to be a teacher but I didn’t go to college, so I had to find another job where college didn’t matter. Being a band, works out fine.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Bridge performance?

KL: We never play the same set-list twice. Always integrating new material. We have a lot of amazingly talented musicians join us. Baltimore has an amazing collection of musicians and you never know who is going to show up. Just make it a party… a fun vibe. Nothing will ever, ever, compare to a Grateful Dead show and if I can give fans just a tiny percentage, like 1,000th of a percentage of that feeling, than that’s the real goal. That’s what I’m going for.

PEV: How have you evolved in those six and a half years?

KL: Well, we’re selling out all of our shows in Baltimore. Doing a lot of festivals, playing in front of thousands of people. We’ve had shows where we’d show up and we’d be playing for just the bartender and the door guy. Now, people know my name and talk to me, which is definitely different. The parties are better… good times (laughs).

PEV: Out of all the places you’ve played, which stands out the most?

KL: Besides Baltimore?

PEV: If it’s Baltimore, it’s Baltimore…

KL: Well, I’m just going to say this, there is no place like Baltimore. I am a Baltimore guy, we are a Baltimore band. We represent Baltimore to the fullest. The Bridge is as hard as [The hit HBO drama] “The Wire”. People go up to me and say, “You’re from Baltimore?” And I’m like, “Hell yeah, I’m from Baltimore, son!” They’re like, “Do you watch The Wire?” And I’m like, “I AM the Wire, son!” (laughs).

PEV: I’m making that a direct quote, “I am the Wire, son!”

KL: (laughs!) I love Baltimore man. There is nothing like Baltimore, man. But my second favorite would be New Orleans. The heritage and culture and inspiration you get from being in such a musical place. Baltimore is number one though, by a landslide.

PEV: How have all your friends and families reacted to all your success?

KL: There will always be haters, man. I always say, behind every great man, there’s ten haters. But I’ve been blessed to have some the best friends in the world. I have the best family and friends that anyone can ever ask for. And also, pretty much the best dog in the world, that never makes me feel bad for being away for a month. There are some people that were really mean to me in high school, since I was like the nerdy-hippie kid but now they’re all cool now. I just shrug it off though, I’m cool with everybody.

PEV: Is there a certain up and coming band we should all be looking out for?

KL: Yeah, let me make you a list (laughs). Super talented people, Ryan Montbleau Band, from Boston, is surpassed The Bridge. I’ve been really into this band called the Avett Brothers Band. I’ve been listening to the shit out of them. There is a band in Baltimore called the Bass Hounds. Also, Permilla Project, they’re from Salisbury.

PEV: How would you describe the sound of The Bridge?

KL: Man, that is like the hardest question in the world to answer (laughs).

PEV: It wouldn’t be fun if I gave you easy questions, Kenny!

KL: (Laughs) A lot of people ask that question. I’ll just revert to, we write songs that we like. We don’t try to play all this electronica music and stuff. We play the music we love. The old blues and soul; we just try to break it down to one bong hit and smoke it all at once. One nice long nasty buzz. You can quote me on that (laughs). I’m not sure if your website is PG or not.

PEV: Hey, it’s my job to post what you say, so it’s going.

KL: Hey man, I just woke up, so I’m just trying to give you something real and interesting. I don’t want to be like everyone else saying the same shit.

NOTE: A quick little sidebar; Kenny just woke up, for our interview was at 1:00 PM. But I digress.

PEV: Having a big college fan-base, which college seems to be the best to play?

KL: Virginia Tech. There are a lot of great colleges and supporters, all across but we played Virginia Tech a week after the shooting and it was the first time the bars were open and the kids went out. It was just a very meaningful experience. We have always done well there but I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to show up or be bummed out… rightfully so though. We made the show free, we didn’t want to charge. In the middle of the first song, everyone exploded into “Bridge-Funness”. The show just went off. We just love playing there. The fans really love us there and we love playing for them… the girls aint to bad there either, you know. An extra little bonus.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about The Bridge?

KL: Surprised? Well, The Bridge are just some great guys, you know. You meet a lot of bands where there are ego problems or whatever. I think that people would like to know that they are just great guys. They are more than my band, they are my best friends. It’s a family. If I ever needed them, they’d be there for me and I’d do the same.

PEV: If there was one artist or band that you would like to collaborate with, who would it be? Alive or passed?

KL: Wow… I’ve always had these visions of like when I die, all these sick musicians are going to be on stage waiting. Like Ray Charles, Jerry, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kurt Cobain. All ready to have me play with them. If I had to narrow it down to one… wait, I have two… I would say Ray Charles and Jerry Garcia.

PEV: What one word would best describe The Bridge?

KL: Can it be just the Bridge? (Laughs)

PEV: Bridge. Done. The Bridge.

KL: Well, if I had to pick a better word, I’d say “fractal” (laughs). Look it up.

PEV: Which one moment has been the biggest highlight for the band? The one that stands out the most.

KL: I think the fact that I am in a band and that’s my job, is a highlight (laughs). Everybody else has to get up and go to work. I just woke up! I love sleeping late.

PEV: So what’s next for The Bridge?

KL: We’re recording an album now. It’s going to be like “The Dark Side Of The Moon” meets “Sgt. Peppers” meets “Paul’s Boutique” meets “Yani”. And once that’s released, I mean, if it doesn’t change the world, than it will be the next thing we’ll tour behind it. You never know what’s going to happen.

PEV: Alright Kenny, thanks again man for taking time with us.

KL: Hey man, glad to catch up, thanks.

For more information on The Bridge, check out


1 Comment

  1. Local Yocal said,

    Yep, Kenny’s right. Dem Permilla boys gits er good on der guit-fiddles, naw-mean?

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